The countries of Bhutan, Wales, and Malta all have national flags that feature a dragon. The mythical creatures are featured in the legends of several cultures all over the world.
The flag features a dragon from Bhutanese mythology. This alludes to the Dzongkha name of Bhutan – Druk Yul – as well as the Drukpa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, which is the dominant religion of Bhutan. An alternative hypothesis maintains that the notion of symbolizing sovereignty and the state in the form of a dragon emerged in neighboring China and was adopted by the rulers of Bhutan as a symbol of royalty in the early 20th century. The flag was adopted in 1969.
The legend of the Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch in Welsh) tells of a ruler of the island of Britain after the Romans had left the land. He was a dictator called, in British dialect, Vortigern. At this time Britain was being assailed by invaders, from Ireland, from the far north of what is today Scotland and from the continent, the latter consisting of tribes of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. This latter eventually created England, a country carved out of a Brythonic/Welsh-speaking country.
Anyway, Vortigern was attempting to build a castle at a strategic point but he found that every morning the work that had been done the previous day had been destroyed but nobody could tell him why. So he consulted the priests of his tribe who told him that a boy, born of woman but with no father, would be able to explain the cause. Eventually, such a boy was found and brought to Vortigern (but that’s another story). Anyway, as he came to the crumbling foundations of the intended castle he took a staff that he was holding and struck the ground, which collapsed into a large cave within which could be seen two dragons sleeping, one red and one white. As the daylight fell upon the beasts they awoke and flew up, clawing at each other and fighting, this combat being the cause of the castle’s damage.
Vortigern cried out in dismay and demanded to know what this all meant. The boy turned to him and explained that the red dragon represented the native peoples of Britain whilst the white dragon represented the incoming putative English peoples. This conflict, the boy further explained, would continue for all time.
Well, that’s the legend but the truth is not quite as dramatic. Oh yes, and the boy’s name was Myrddin, better known in the English form Merlin.
The current welsh flag was adopted in 1959.
A very close look at the Maltese flag will reveal surprisingly a dragon. The upper left side of the flag of Malta displays the George Cross that has a red outline at the edges. The George Cross was added to the Maltese flag when it was presented to the Maltese people by Britain’s King George VI to the Maltese in recognition of exceptional bravery during the Second World War (1942) when Malta was still part of the United Kingdom.
Viewed by a few Maltese as a symbol of British rule while Malta was still a British colony, the George Cross was sometimes omitted.
The flag was adopted on September 21, 1964